Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Searching For Durian Jam

After finding durian fruit and ice cream bars in Asian stores, my search continued for one last durian product: jam or preserves. Let me track back a little bit. I finished all of the frozen durian a few days ago. I tried eating it thawed, partially frozen, and defrosted by microwave. Fully thawed, it felt too mushy, partially frozen, it numbed the taste buds, but then, when I microwaved it, the sugars seemed to have been released and it tasted as heavenly as I remembered it growing up. I have one ice cream bar left and that shall be gone soon too.
To continue with the jam search, so far I haven’t seen any in brick and mortar grocery stores, but doing a Google search, I found an online store from Oklahoma that sells them. However, the reviews from former customers were terrible, saying that products were shipped late, and often expired goods were sent. When some customers requested refunds for undelivered or returned products, the company was not very prompt in following through.
 Some of my former high school classmates saw durian preserves being sold at the airport in Zamboanga City, and based on the present currency exchange rate, the price was about $6.60 for a 16 oz. bottle. If I ordered that, the postage would have cost much more than the price of the jam itself. The one sold in Oklahoma is $5.29 for 12 oz. plus $5.99 (flat rate regardless of how many bottles ordered) for postage. It would of course be more advantageous to order more than one bottle because that makes the shipping fee more reasonable. However, I’ll have to think hard before ordering from that store based on the negative reviews.
 A couple of days later using Bing search, I found another online store based in the city of Hawthorne which is probably 8 to 12 miles away from where I live. I sent them an email over the weekend to find out if it was possible to go to their location to buy their products (which would enable me to check for expiration dates). Each bottle costs $5.39 with shipping within California being $4.99. Since they are closed on weekends, I’m still awaiting a reply from them. Oh, by the way, they also sell srikaya (salikaya) jam, another one of my favorite spreads. It’s been more than a week since I wrote this draft and they still have to respond to my inquiry. That doesn’t portray their customer service very well and thus I’m reluctant to order from them too.
By the way, the durian jam from all these online stores is the Mariza brand from Indonesia. Maybe I can get over my reluctance and order some just to see how it tastes compared to the ones I grew up eating. I’ll let you know.
I wrote most of the above last week but here's a quick update before this is posted. One of my high school classmates who lives in New York ordered from the Hawthorne store I mentioned above and said she was disappointed with the quality of the product, meaning, it didn't taste as good as the one made in my hometown of Jolo. I may have to order it and find out for myself.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Inspired To Run Just One More Time

Whoa! A post about running!? I got home from work last Wednesday morning and checked the Runner’s World Website (one the sites I visit every day). I came across a link to this article about a blind high school girl who runs cross country with her seeing eye dog: I mean, how inspiring can that be? I shared it with a couple of local running groups on Facebook right away and I hope someone took the time to click and read it. Here I am having “only” damaged ankle tendons and complaining about not being able to run. Well ok, I have to save my ankles so I can still walk in my older years, that’s why I had to give up running. On this day though, after reading that article and getting inspired, I just had to give it the old college try and mounted the treadmill.  I kept the incline at 1% and the speed very, very slow that it’s not even worth mentioning. I don’t even think speed is the right word for it. Crawl maybe? Anyway, I just wanted to feel something slightly faster than a brisk walk. I had to keep reminding myself to shorten my stride, keep it as light as I can (my stride is very heavy even when I try to keep it light), and to simulate an Alter-G treadmill (, I even supported some my weight on my arms on the handrails so as to lessen the impact on my ankles. And of course, to remember the blind runner with the seeing eye dog. Well whatdayaknow but I lasted half an hour of doing that and did another 40 minutes of jogging and walking (raising the incline to 5% on the walking part, then back to 1% for the running portions). Let me assure you though that this is not a running comeback but a one- time deal. Or perhaps it was one of those occasional forays into my old pastime when inspiration strikes, combined with not too much pain in my ankles. Well, it’s better than nothing, isn’t it?

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rejoining the Long Beach Walking Club at Signal Hill

This post is a week late and all because of procrastination. I was checking out the Meet Up group ( for the Long Beach Walking Club two Fridays ago and noticed that more people than usual had signed up for the next day’s 6 mile walk at Signal Hill. Usually only two or three people plus a dog signs up but on that day there were eight of us. Okay, let me change that. The dog named Tiger didn’t sign up. Even though I haven’t walked in four weeks I decided to join them. It was early May since I last walked with them because I went to my running club’s workouts most of the summer. Oops, another mistake. It was last April when I joined and walked with this club (
Now that the Long Beach marathon training program is over for the year, I may workout with the walking club more. This Meet Up group has walks just about every day of the week and sometimes more than once a day, but I’ve only walked with the Saturday morning Signal Hill group so far because of the more challenging course. When I walked with them twice in May, I found the pace a little too slow to achieve a good workout. The other Saturday, I decided to push the pace up the hills then going back to the last walker, which enabled me to stay with the group. On the flats, I just kept pace with them. Pushing the pace uphill made the breathing feel like running, and those few minutes of climbing triggered some endorphins. I wish they had included more uphills on their route. Of course if I wanted to, I could go solo after the 6 miles was done. I just hope my fellow walkers didn’t take offense and think I was showing them up for going faster uphill. Since I haven’t walked for 4 weeks my thighs were sore the next day. The shinsplints also came back which surprisingly doesn’t happen when I run. I mean, when I was still running. I wasn't able to join them the following week because I had to attend a CPR renewal class as a job requirement. All that procrastinating for a post that’s blah. Even the photo above is recycled.
Running uphill at any pace = tough, walking as hard as you can uphill = no so.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Birthday Call To Mom – 2011 Edition

Last week, I made my annual birthday call to my mom in the Philippines. I used to call her on my cellphone but this time I bought some international minutes from MagicJack and used internet telephony instead. I wanted to find out the difference in clarity between the two.
My timing was perfect because she just got back home from church. Mama said she received the birthday card and money I sent several weeks ago and thanked me for it. Whew! I’m glad that arrived safely. LBC has delivered once again. Mom reminded me that it was her 80th birthday and was thankful for reaching that age. She had planned on buying her friends dinner at Palmeras Restaurant as a sort of thanksgiving for becoming an Octogenarian. So we got to talking and she mentioned that she and three of her friends visited Camiguin Island in August. Imagine that! I was happy to hear that despite the pain in her knees, she was still able to travel a little bit. I asked her if she was able to attend the recent Notre Dame grand reunion. Unfortunately she missed it because nobody informed her. I’m sure the reason for the most part is the lack of electronic social networking for the older folks. So I told her about my own electronic social networking with my former high school classmates. Of course I brought up the topic of Nangka-Nangka, tamarung, and durian. Mom confirmed that tamarung was a throwaway fish that nobody bought, but since President Cory Aquino pushed for developing that industry during her term, the fish became more popular and has gone up in price since then. Other than Nangka-Nangka, mom said there were also tamarungs plying their trade a few houses behind ours and when I was a little boy, I yelled “tamarung!” at some of them because I didn’t know any better what that meant then. Wow! That’s something I don’t even remember.
                Turning to the topic of durian, I told her that I had tasted durian again after about three decades. She said one our family friends has three durian trees and they bring her some from time to time when the fruit is in season. Dang! My mom eats better durian, goes on a vacation, and buys her friends dinner at one of the better restaurants in the city! She’s doing much better than I am, LOL!
                Anyway, we talked so much that my mom’s throat got so dry that she started coughing. This was after all the longest we’ve talked on the phone. We usually only talk for about half an hour to 45 minutes and this lasted an hour and 20 minutes. Maybe because we had more interesting topics to talk about. Before we said our goodbyes, I asked her how the call sounded and she said it was crystal clear with no lag or choppiness, in contrast to our previous chats. I’m sure this was all due to my faster internet connection. Although we could have talked more, she had to rest her itchy throat and prepare for the day ahead to celebrate her eighth decade on earth with her friends. Happy birthday again Mama, with much love <B

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Working The Long Beach Half Marathon

Well, as I mentioned a few weeks back after finishing a 12 mile walk, I was having difficulty finding someone to work for me on marathon day. I ended up selling my race packet to one of our club members, so instead of waking up at 4 a.m. Sunday morning and toeing the line at the Long Beach Marathon at 7 a.m., I was stuck at work doing my own version of work marathon. We had five admissions that night and I did four of them. That doesn’t really entail much. Just checking their vital signs, having them sign admission papers and checking their belongings. However, the amount of time it took me to do all of those admissions cumulatively, would have been the approximate time it would have taken me to finish the half marathon walk. How’s that for comparison? The difference was that I didn’t breath hard and didn’t sweat while doing the admissions and the calorie burn was negligible. No sports drinks, gels, or bloks required. We were shorthanded that night but thanks to our LVN’s who stepped up to relieve us for our breaks. Five admissions with three behavioral health workers is hard enough. With only two of us, it became more challenging. But just like what I expected to happen in the half marathon if I had walked it, my co-worker and I finished, and both happened in the city of Long Beach. By the way, when I checked my finishing time later, the guy who used my bib number completed the race in 1:57. I thanked him for giving me a sub 9 minute pace. It would have taken me sub 15 minute pace to have walked it otherwise.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On Training and Other Random Stuff

On Training and Other Random Stuff
Training for hours on end isn’t my cup of tea any more. Concentration, which counts for a lot, wavers early now. After all, marathon training is more about mental toughness than anything. Mind over matter, the will to do it, standing up to the challenge - that motivation doesn’t exist anymore.  In other words, my mind has become lazy.  I don’t know if the reason is because I’m no longer able to run but I’m sure that’s part of it. Not that I mind too much. I still have the motivation to exercise every day. I just don’t want to spend so much time doing it. Running had become a case of brain pleasure versus joint pain and joint pain won. I grew tired of waking up, getting out of bed, and limping due to pain.
I don’t know why my hamstrings are sore. All I did was the clean and press last Friday morning, which I haven’t done in months. This soreness has never happened before. It’s my shortcut weight training workout when I’m pressed for time or when I get lazy.
I figured out why a workout in the recumbent bike is relatively easier than one on a spinning bike. Because you can put your back into it.
Since I couldn’t find someone to work for me on the weekend of the Long Beach marathon, I sent an email to our running club members offering my race bib for a discount. A couple of days later I was able to sell it. He was going to switch it for a half marathon bib since he hadn’t trained for the full marathon. Still, the price was $30 lesser than if he signed up this coming week at the expo.
I don’t know if many people remember that in the late 80’s we already had minimalist running shoes. They were the original Nike Huaraches. It was yellow mesh on top, thin white soles, and a buckle on top to tighten it.
I tried using kinesiotape for my posterior tibialis tendon problem last month and it seemed to have a placebo effect because my ankles didn’t hurt so much. The second time, it didn’t seem to make a difference as far as perceived pain. I found out that body fat percentage is not accurately measured when part of the sole is covered by kinesiotape. The body fat weighing scale shows an additional 3 to 4%.
Speaking of working out, I’ve started to use my rowing machine again (a cheaper imitation of a Concept II ergometer). I’ve hardly used it in the past couple of years and all because I didn’t want to drag it out of the corner of my living room and unfold it. But lately, I’ve been wanting more variety to my workouts. I would prefer to just run of course, but since I can’t do that, I have been relying on machines. Rowing by itself is pretty boring to me, so I break down this particular workout between several machines. By breaking it down I’m able to increase the duration of the workout. If you’ve been following this blog, you already know I also have an elliptical machine, a recumbent bike, a spinning bike, and a treadmill. The elliptical machine makes my ankles hurt so I’ve eliminated that machine for now. If I do 4 sets of five minutes on each machine, an hour goes by quickly.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Re-experiencing Durian

My search for durian continued last Friday morning when I visited a small Filipino market in Long Beach called Tambuli. Again, I found the whole frozen fruit instead of the one in plastic containers. In the afternoon of the same day, I drove slightly farther to Artesia’s 99 Ranch Market, which was bigger and had more choices. Given that I had been hydrating all day, the first section I visited at the 99 Ranch store was the bathroom. I found no durian there. Afterwards, I started on one end of the market then I proceeded to walk up and down all the store’s aisles like a woman would normally do while shopping, to see what I can find. My usual modus operandi is knowing what I want, I go to that appropriate section it can be found, pick it up, then exit after paying. No meandering around the store. But not on this day. I have never been to that market and I wanted to explore.
It just so happened that the first aisle I started on had what I was looking for: frozen durian in a plastic container. Near it, I also found several whole unopened frozen fruits, and at one end of the freezer was also durian fruit bar and ice cream. I made a note of the aisle then continued to look around the rest of the store by going down one aisle and up the next until I reached the other side of the store. In between, I picked up a bottle of UFC banana ketchup (58 cents), Sriracha hot sauce (2.50), and a jar of kimchi (not hot enough! 3.28). I then returned to the durian aisle and picked up the frozen durian = 6.89 (!) and fruit bar - box of 7 = 2.69, while passing on the ice cream (8.99 a half gallon!), and whole fruit (1.49/pound). I paid for them then went back home. At last! Durian in my fridge!
Durian - you don’t just eat it, you experience it. Some like me may take it for granted because we grew up eating it; but when one’s palate hasn’t savored it for decades, the more reason to call it an experience or in this case a re-experience . First timers may have a difference of opinion because what I consider the nice fragrance of the fruit, they may consider a bad odor.
Let me tell you what I know about durian. Other than eating it… nothing. For example: I didn’t know that with ripe durian, there are seams that separate naturally so you can split the fruit open easily just using an ordinary knife. I thought you had to strike it hard with a machete. And once you open one seam, the others go easier. Wanna know how I found that out? From You Tube, of course! Maybe I’ll buy the whole fruit next time and try opening it myself.
Back to the products I bought. I had to defrost the frozen fruit for a few hours and when I opened the container it contained two pieces which were wrapped in plastic. I opened one and tried to pick it up with my fingers but it was too soft. It turns out the seeds have been removed. I had to eat the flesh with a spoon. My impression of the defrosted durian was that it tasted like the durian I grew up with but it was mushy because it didn’t have the seed and also because it was previously frozen. I can now understand why the plastic container was shrink wrapped and the fruit itself plastic wrapped. It was to contain the smell. In spite of all the wrapping, the aroma still escaped the container. As far as size, the two pieces without seeds might have been equal to about half a fruit. The essence of durian hung in the air indoors as well as in my burps that day. Too bad you can’t take a picture and attach smell-a-vision to it otherwise I’d be able to share the sweet smell emanating from the kitchen. The next day, I ate it slightly frozen and it had better texture but unfortunately lesser taste. The fruit bar on the other hand was heavenly. The only difference was that my mother used to make it with bits of pulp while this one had none. In the meantime, the smell of durian has overwhelmed my refrigerator. I could stick my face in there and breath it all day, while my neighbors would probably stay as far away as possible from my place. Despite not having eaten it for decades, in my book durian remains the king of fruits.

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